I’ve already voted, but I’ve changed my mind - and it's all to do with house prices...

 
Russell Quirk
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House prices could be hit hard if we opt to leave the EU (Source: Getty)

I’ve long been a eurosceptic - suspicious of the EU regime and its unelected, barely accountable opacity-swathed ethos.

I’m a democrat and a free markets kind of guy who objects to a lurching federal super-state, any hint of a single currency or a loss of our sovereignty.

Unelected autocrats in expensed Mercedes doing as they please with no checks and balances? An open door immigration policy which allows for, indeed encourages, a swathe of people movement that may place an unpredictable and unsustainable burden on UK housing, the NHS and our welfare system?

Brexit Britain: What you need to know

I’m so emphatic in my view on these aspects that last week I joyously ticked the ‘Leave’ box on my postal ballot and sent it to the Returning Officer with gusto. That’ll teach them.

So, now I’m staring down the barrel of the EU commotion, which has accelerated even further over the past few days - and I’m changing my mind about the vote I’ve cast.

Having seen/heard/read multiple arguments for and against staying in the EU, we’ve all become pretty immune to the jibes and the shouts from both camps. The fear factor which has been stretched to ever-ridiculous proportions by both sides has become part of the comedy of the occasion. And so I’m not wavering because of any new voice in the debate or fresh contention.

However, I work in the property industry. I make my living from the health of this sector and its buoyancy, and a stable housing market is essential to the success of my fixed-fee estate agency business.

Property prices and the resulting equity within the population’s homes is a key to wider economic prosperity, even if that’s mere psychology. A rising price and the comfort of a nest egg growing is consequential to enthusiasm around consumer spending and a thriving economy. No equity? Falling house prices? That means less desire to spend on “stuff”.

I don’t believe, actually, that anything tangible would harm our robust market if we voted for a Brexit. But I do believe in the power of uncertainty and media hype.

I well remember the dark days of 2008 and 2009, me shouting at the TV as journalists encouraged obscure experts to predict a housing crash that then promptly did as it was told and happened.

It had no choice but to follow sentiment and retreat to a hidden place until the lights came back on, whereby the newspapers and 24-hour news channels eventually let it come out again without hitting it with a stick.

As the polls close on the country’s first referendum in over 40 years on Thursday night, a Leave vote will send the equity markets and sterling into a nose-dive, albeit temporarily. Interest rates may well rise in tandem.

The media will, again, sensationalise the outcome of the EU disconnect for housing and our economy and, while banks increase their loan rates “just in case”, yet more fuel is then added to the hyperbole.

The result? A self-fulfilling prophecy, a spiral of lower demand, falling house prices, dearer mortgages and a cul-de-sac of hope for homeowners and would-be buyers. A right old two and eight (old money, you understand) that while the numbers will not dictate such, the radio, TV and the press undoubtedly will.

Now, how do I get my vote back?

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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